Double viral marketing

Associate Programs Newsletter #141

Mini-sites (Part 6)

I keep receiving useful feedback on affiliate mini-sites, so I'm continuing the topic this week.

Site Build It!, double viral marketing and more...


CONTENTS:

1. Site Build It! helps super affiliates and newbies
2. Mini-sites for affiliates who don't know much HTML
3. Viral marketing? Now it's double viral marketing
4. Affiliates ask for better tracking statistics
5. Babyserv affiliates kept in the dark
6. Nexchange bites the dust
7. Italian company buys NetCreations
8. You can be paid for "trash" traffic
9. Four generations around our Christmas table
10. Thought for today: You're going to have to pay


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===================================================
1. Site Build It helps super affiliates and newbies
===================================================

I was chatting with Ken Evoy yesterday at 3am his time - what a workaholic he is! (The good doctor phoned to reassure me that if the hospital sent me home that means I'm not in danger of having a heart attack.)

Ken and his SiteSell team have just put the finishing touches to the public launch of Site Build It!, which has been undergoing comprehensive testing for several months.

I can't decide which affiliates Site Build It! will appeal to more:

  • Affiliates who don't know about HTML, FTP, search engine optimizing, meta tags and keyword density will be attracted by the way you can build a revenue-earning web site without knowing all that tedious, time-consuming technical stuff.
  • Successful affiliates who want to add a new revenue stream quickly will appreciate all the time-saving tools included in Site Build It! Manager.

"The tools will let you get 10 times as much done in the same amount of time!" Ken says.

Ken is excited about the potential Site Build It! has for turning non-performing affiliates into performers. Affiliates using it can concentrate on the fun part - the "search engine sexy" content - instead worrying about HTML, FTP, etc.

I gave Site Build It! a really tough test. I asked two people who have never constructed a web site to use Site Build It! to create a site each. I gave them only rough guidelines on the theme to choose, and no advice on HTML.

They found that Site Build It! does what Ken says it does - it creates keyword-rich, professional looking web sites easily.

(I won't tell you the URLs of the sites yet because I want to test just how "search engine sexy" my new sites are and also test their pre-selling power without having the test results skewed by giving the sites publicity in this newsletter.)

Super affiliates will appreciate how useful Site Build It! is for tasks such as:

  • Brainstorming.
  • Researching target markets.
  • Building your master keyword list.
  • Traffic building.
  • Researching the top 20 bids at each of the eight most important pay-per-click search engines.
  • Preparing mass-bidding submissions for those pay-per-click engines.

Perhaps most important of all, Site Build It! is a tool for the FUTURE.

It helps you build a powerful, theme-based, content site which will attract search engine traffic in an ethical way. It doesn't use shortsighted gimmicks which may work today but won't tomorrow.

If you've been following the way search engines are improving, you'll know that themed sites are becoming very important. Site Build It! creates the sort of themed sites the search engines like.

The importance of themed sites is explained more fully in Ken's free "Affiliate Masters" course, which explains step-by- step how to succeed with affiliate programs.

The two people who tested Site Build It! for me were a little confused at first until I reminded them about the "Affiliate Masters" course. When they printed it out and followed the simple instructions step by step they had no trouble at all.

Download the 10-day free course here:

Free Affiliate Masters Course

The course gives you a goal to achieve each day. It's designed to help a person of average ability succeed with ANY good affiliate program, not just Ken's products.

Read the course in conjunction with the information on Site Build It! here:

http://www.AssociatePrograms.com/buildit


=====================================================
2. Mini-sites for affiliates who don't know much HTML
=====================================================

ClubMom.com has made it easy for affiliates who know little HTML to have their own one-page mini-sites to promote ClubMom.

The mini-site page is very well designed and has a highly professional look.

However, I think using it exactly as provided would be a mistake.

"I've been very interested in the things you've been writing about mini-sites and I made a mention of them in my monthly newsletter," says Shawn Collins of ClubMom.

"I got a flood of e-mail asking for more info, so I went ahead and created the HTML for my affiliates to copy and paste to make their own pages in a matter of seconds (Be Free has a neat feature where you can serve entire HTML documents to affiliates with their codes integrated)."

The HTML for a Clubmom affiliate mini-site is now available at clubmom.reporting.net . When you login, just click on "Creating Links" and select "Mini-site HTML."

"Then, you will copy the HTML, paste it into your HTML editor, and save it as clubmom.html. After you have done this, upload the file to your site. After you have uploaded the file, submit that page to the main search engines . . . and you should see some results within three to four weeks," Shawn says.

You can see what the mini-site looks like at http://www.babylounge.com/mini-site.html

Shawn advises affiliates to submit the page to these main search engines:

AltaVista
Direct Hit
Excite
Fast Search
Go/Infoseek
HotBot
Lycos

You may wish to add Northern Light to that list.

Providing affiliates with a tool to create dozens, hundreds or perhaps thousands of pages which are all the same seems misguided to me.

It reminds me of the time when free-for-all (FFA) pages worked a little bit, and then companies began automating submissions to them and now they're almost useless for anyone except the owner of the FFA site.

Search engines are getting better and better at finding pages which are the same, and ranking them low or deleting them. They're working very hard to make sure that pages like these ClubMom pages WON'T be found when someone does a search.

In comparison, mini-sites the way I've been describing them are DIFFERENT and have a chance of being found now, although if you're aiming for free traffic from search engines I think the best long-term policy is to aim to own a THEMED web site which has many links to it from important sites.

I asked Shawn if he thought I was wrong.

"I totally understand your perspective (and think it is correct) and I realize what I did is a bastardization of the concept," Shawn replied.

"My intention was to provide a fast and easy solution to the Geocities affiliates who might otherwise never put anything up because of their limited technical abilities. My thought was to eventually have a half dozen or so to choose from, so that the search engines are not flooded with hundreds of the same mirror sites.

"I submitted my version of the ClubMom mini-site to the search engines, so I'll track whether it makes it in any of the important places. As you stated, this is definitely not a prudent long-term strategy, but it may be a useful short-term technique while I aim to educate the Geocities affiliates and provide them with the tools to create their own quality sites. Sure, it might turn out to be a bust, but I figured it's worth the test to try and get my active affiliate number a couple of percent higher."

If you're going to use one of these ClubMom pages I suggest you edit the text and rewrite about 20% of it to ensure that the search engines see it as a unique page. When you rewrite, make sure you place keywords in the title, in the meta tags, in the first paragraph, in the body of the page and again near the end of the page.

(The same advice applies to any affiliate program which provides you with a cut-and-paste web page, such as Rick Beneteau's Ezine Marketing Machine. UPDATE: It disappeared.)

Shawn says affiliates could easily edit the page with FrontPage or another WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) type HTML editor.

"If they actually get in the code, there's a risk of really messing it up, because I have a handful of tables in there, but I plan to create some very basic versions, so they can plug their own text in easily."


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===================================================
3. Viral marketing? Now it's double viral marketing
===================================================

You've heard about viral marketing, but what about DOUBLE viral marketing? That's what Wes Blaylock calls his big breakthrough in e-book marketing.

Viral marketing is one of cheapest, most astoundingly successful methods of online marketing - when you get it right.

People tell people, who tell people, who tell people, and the message spreads like... well, like a virus.

Creating an e-book to give away is an excellent way to boost your traffic, gain credibility, and skyrocket your sales - as long as you write original, USEFUL material.

If you're as clever and as well known as Seth Godin, you may be able to create a free e-book which gets downloaded 400,000 times in only 30 days - http://www.ideavirus.com/.

However, if you're not as clever as Seth, you need to provide a strong INCENTIVE for people to pass on your e-book and to ensure the viral marketing effect is self-perpetuating.

Why would anyone want to send your e-book to a friend, family, or associates? Why should they pick up your free e-book and offer it free on their web site?

How can you persuade thousands of people to do that?

The best way is to answer the question: "What's in it for me?"

You do that by offering to REWARD people who give away your e-book.

You can reward them by allowing them to add their own link to your free e-book, or perhaps edit the e-book and add their name or advertisement.

"Do you think they would be more willing to pass it around then? YOU BET!" says Wes Blaylock, whose new EbookPaper software program lets them do this quickly and easily.

"If they could have their link or advertisement in your e-book, then they would pass it around like mad, and get others to pass it around as well," Wes says.

Wes's EbookPaper software program, which is receiving rave reviews, not only lets you simply and easily compile e-books to sell or give away. It also lets the people who are passing it on easily add their brand - or even their affiliate links.

"This is a double viral marketing effect," Wes says. "Now you have tons of people passing around your free e-book that links to your sales letter, to hundreds of thousands of people. How powerful is that? Extremely powerful!"

This means that you could place a few tags at the bottom of all of your HTML pages that say something like: "This e-book is presented to you by (The edited field or link would be here)."

So now you can create e-books and offer other website owners the power of e-book marketing without having to create and write the e-book themselves.

With the software, Wes provides a tutorial e-book outlining step by step how to use the software to its full potential.

You can read the rave reviews about the "double viral marketing" technique here:

[UPDATE: No longer available.]


================================================
4. Affiliates ask for better tracking statistics
================================================

Last week I asked readers to tell me which affiliate programs provide the best tracking statistics. The replies were less than enthusiastic.

"Frank Fleischer of http://www.breeders.net nominated Animal Den - http://www.AnimalDen.com - a Yahoo! Store, as having the WORST affiliate stats.

Frank features Animal Den products on various pages of his web site, and says he needs to know which items are selling so that he can feature those items more.

Stefanie Puetz-Lehmann of http://www.partnerprogramme.com says she thinks the reports Be Free offers contain very useful details.

"What I do not like with them though: a) lots of clicking required to get a report. b) no consolidated report available that aggregates results for all merchants," she says.

"Regarding quick overviews and good mix of details and aggregation, I like the Commission Junction reports."

Stefanie also provided what she says are bad examples. LinkShare's online reports show sales with time lags of a few days and Tradedoubler (a European network) reports give no details whatsoever, only total dues for clicks, sales and leads for each merchant.

"I think what helps affiliates most is if they can see which products of a merchant they are selling. Then they can focus promotion efforts on these good selling items," Stefanie says.

Randy Hemmel of winacert.com says he is a fan of Corey Rudl, who does it best as far as tracking is concerned. "I can check unique clicks, I get credit for return visits, I know my exact conversion ratio (about 2%), and I get an e-mail every time I make a sale! Corey really does have his act together there, even if he does put a bit of hype in much of his material. But his tracking software, AssocTrac, is tops! I give him credit for that."

I didn't receive a single vote for SiteSell, which provides extremely comprehensive stats, or for the few rare sites such as ROIBot and ActiveMarketplace which allow affiliates to make every referral URL unique, providing very precise stats.

I guess just before Christmas was a bad time to ask for feedback.


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=======================================
5. Babyserv affiliates kept in the dark
=======================================

The Babyserv.com affiliate who wrote this prefers to remain anonymous:

"I participate in an affiliate program for Babyserv.com

"Since the end of October, I have been unable to access my stats on their servers. They assured me that they were still able to track the leads that were coming through even though the web based form wasn't working. I stuck with the program because I am pretty lucky with it and they have kept me at a $2 bounty per sign-up, while lowering other sites...

"After about three weeks of e-mails, I am informed that for the whole time, they have NOT been able to track the leads, just the click-throughs and that they were going to pay based on past monthly performance. That's all fine and dandy except for the fact that I opened a site in November that was highly targeted to their software and I know that the sign-ups have jumped through the roof.

"They kept running the program without letting affiliates know what was going on, without letting us know that we might not be paid properly.

"Having said that, I will still probably stick with them, as long as they don't mess with my bounty. With CPM advertising being at an all time low, I need all the dollars I can get. So if you do report on this issue, I would appreciate it if you don't include my name in it.

"Regarding money issues, I really must thank you!! Your coverage of mini-sites inspired me to go out there and give it a good ole try and I am very happy to let you know it was to the tune of about $1,000 a month in extra income! (That is if things keep up the way they are!)"

Anon.


===========================
6. Nexchange bites the dust
===========================

Affiliate network Nexchange, whose clients include CNN.com and TravelNow.com, is closing down because it is unable to get more funding. Affiliates have been asked to take down all links.

I'm not sure if it's just a coincidence, but I received a complaint this week from a new Nexchange affiliate that Nexchange modules were too slow loading and the search engine wasn't working properly.


====================================
7. Italian company buys NetCreations
====================================

NetCreations, which has a 22-million name database, is being sold to an Italian yellow pages publisher for about $111 million in cash.

internetnews.com/IAR/article/0,,12_544781,00.html


======================================
8. You can be paid for "trash" traffic
======================================

Trashtraffic.com has an affiliate program which allows you to get paid for sending it traffic from ANY text, any banner or any button - including blind links and even 404 errors.

For example, you could have a link saying "Continued next page" and when people clicked on it - surprise! - they would find themselves at trashtraffic.com.

If you don't care at all about your online reputation and don't mind annoying your web site visitors, this program will suit you beautifully. If you have any friends you can also get paid for getting them to join at Trashtraffic.com.

I didn't sign up.

[UPDATE: Trashtraffic died. What a relief!]


==============================================
9. Four generations around our Christmas table
==============================================

I hope your Christmas Day was as good as ours. For the first time in three years I didn't even turn on the computer.

We had a real family day - 19 of us, including four generations ranging in age from 5 months to 83 years.

We all contributed something. The day before, Joanna and I drove a few miles out into the country and bought beautiful baby new potatoes, spring carrots, tiny broad beans, full-flavored tomatoes, fresh raspberries, strawberries, red currants and cherries. We love the fresh young vegetables you get in New Zealand at this time of year, and the fruit such as apricots, nectarines and peaches.

There's something really special about the great tasting food in southern New Zealand.


==================================================
10. Thought for today: You're going to have to pay
==================================================

"In the tradition of year-end predictions, I offer my own: 2001 will be the year that website operators come to their collective senses and start charging customers for service. Given that this will be a difficult change (users have become quite accustomed to getting services for free), I do not predict that most websites will be charging by the end of 2001. What I do envision is the revival of the paying-customer concept as a Web business model."

– Jakob Nielsen
http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20001224.html

 

All the best

Allan Gardyne

P.S. Happy new millennium!

December 28, 2000

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